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      What are Retainers?


      A Retainer is one of several ways to bill your Clients. With a Retainer, you and your Client can establish a budget and reserve a block of time for service-based work performed on a recurring basis. All time is tracked towards the Client’s Retainer balance, and Invoices are automatically generated by the Retainer’s settings for easy billing. If you track more time beyond the balance, those hours are automatically flagged as excess hours. You can then bill this excess time into a one-off Invoice.

      Retainers allow you to set clear expectations on the terms for the ongoing arrangement, including the Retainer amount, excess hour charges, and more details into services. You can also send a Retainer Summary report which specifies the time tracked towards the Client’s Retainer balance.

      Retainers are available on Plus and Premium plans only.



      Create Retainers

      Each Client can only have one active Retainer at a time. Retainers can be created in one of three ways:

      1. Click on either:
        1. The Invoices section, then click on the Retainers sub-section and select New Retainer
        2. The Dashboard section, then click Create New, and select Retainer
        3. The Clients section, then click on your Client, and select the + button under the Retainers tab
      2. In the form, select a Client if there isn’t one already selectedSet retainer terms and billing schedule form.
      3. Next, indicate how much you’ll charge for in the Fees Per Period
      4. Then write in the Hours Per Period that you’ll be working for
      5. Next, choose a Retainer Start Date
      6. Enter a Rate for Excess Hours, which will be used on any extra hours tracked beyond the Retainer period
      7. Choose a frequency in the Retainer Period dropdown
      8. The Invoice Issue date is automatically populated to today, or click on the calendar icon if you’d like to choose a different Issue Date
      9. In the Number of Invoices area, select either Infinite (to never stop creating Invoices) or Periods Remaining with the number of Invoices to create
      10. Click on the Set and Continue button.

      Your Retainer will be generated and you can now customize it like any other Invoice or Recurring Template.
      Preview of Retainer.
      Once you’re done, click on the Save… button to review the email and finish. The Retainer will generate an Invoice on the Retainer Start Date you’ve chosen, and keep generating new Invoices at the frequency you specify until it ends. A Retainer can be paid like any other Invoice or Invoice generated from Recurring Templates, including with Recurring Payments.


      Track Retainers

      Once the Retainer is set up, you and your team can track time towards it. You’ll also be able to monitor the amount of time tracked so you can stay profitable and revise the Retainer terms as needed.

      To track your Retainers, use these steps: 

      1. Go to the Invoices section
      2. Click on the Retainers sub-section
      3. Click on the Retainer you want to view details for.

      Each section of the Retainers area is broken down into detail below:Retainer overview for client with tabs and information.

      • Retainer for (Client Name) - This displays details of your Retainer - the number of hours per frequency, the fee and the next Invoice to be generated
      • Hours Logged - Displays hours tracked towards your Retainer budget over the duration of your Period. Your total time tracked is shown in blue, and if it’s approaching or surpassing the budget line in red, you may want to revisit the Retainer with your Client before excess hours are logged
      • Remaining in Budget, Period Revenue, Remaining in Period - See how your Retainer is performing over time with total time tracked, total revenue earned, and any outstanding time entries, making it easy to see if you’re often under, on, or over budget
      • More Actions - Click on this to quickly Archive or Delete the Retainer
      • Edit - Click to change the look of your Retainer, or update your Retainer Terms

      There are also three tabs for you to toggle between on any Retainer:

      • Invoices - This tab shows you all Invoices generated by the Retainer, including any excess hours you’ve logged
      • Time Entries - Use this tab to see all time entries tracked towards the Retainer, as well as another way to add or edit time entries if needed
      • Projects - From this tab, you can add Flat Rate or Hourly Projects that will automatically have all time entries in them associated with this Retainer
      • Report - A shortcut to the Retainer Summary Report, where you can get a detailed breakdown of all time tracked by you and your team for any particular Retainer that can be sent to the Client


      Excess Hours

      Any time you track beyond the terms of your Retainer will automatically be logged as Excess Hours. You have the option to charge any Excess Hours back to your Client after the end of your Retainer period, as long as you have a rate for Excess Hours specified in your Retainer Terms.

      Once your Retainer period has expired, you’ll be able to create an Invoice for Excess Hours with these steps:

      1. Go to the Invoices section
      2. Click on the Retainers sub-section
      3. Click on the Retainer you want to view details for
      4. If needed, click on the date range above the graph and choose the time period you have excess time for
      5. Above the Retainer details, click on the Generate an invoice link in the banner for excess time
        Link to generate an invoice for excess time.
      6. Continue with editing your Invoice as needed and click Save or Send… when you’re done.



      How do I edit my Retainer Terms?

      If you need to change the Retainer Terms and Billing Schedule, use the below steps: 

      1. Go to the Invoices section
      2. Click on the Retainers sub-section
      3. Next, click on the Retainer you want to edit
      4. Click on the Edit button
      5. Then on the preview of the Retainer Invoice, hover next to the Retainer line item and click on the Edit Terms link
      6. Edit your terms as needed, and click Set and Continue to finish
      7. Then click Save... to apply your changes.

      Note: If you modify the Start Date, it must not fall in any period where the Retainer has already generated an Invoice.


      How do I track time towards a Client’s Retainer? 

      By Project - If you're tracking time towards a Project, you can automatically enable all time entries associated to that Project to also apply to the Retainer with these steps: 

      1. Go to the Projects section
      2. Click on the Project you want to associate to the Retainer (or make a new Project)
      3. If the Client selected on the Project has an active Retainer, you'll see the option Apply Time to Retainer appear under For (Client Name), click on this
      4. Check the box off next to Apply time from this project to (Client Name)'s retainer and click Done.

      This will apply to any new time entries moving forward.

      By Individual Time Entry - Otherwise, you can also assign individual time entries outside of projects to a Retainer with the below steps:

      1. Go to the Time Tracking section 
      2. Use the Start Timer button, Recent Timers section, or click on the + button
      3. Fill out your time entry details
      4. Ensure the box next to Apply to Retainer is checked offApply to retainer checkbox on time entry.
      5. Hit Log Time or Save when you’re done. The time entry will now be associated with the Retainer. 

      How do I delete my Retainer? 

      Deleting a Retainer is permanent - once deleted, the Retainer can't be undeleted. Use the below steps: 

      1. Go to the Invoices section
      2. Click on the Retainers sub-section
      3. Check off the box next to the Retainer you want to delete
      4. Click on the More Actions button
      5. Click on Delete
      6. Click OK to confirm. 

      Any time tracked to this Retainer will remain. You can edit the time entry to mark it as billable and uncheck Apply to Retainer if you need to remove it from the Retainer.


      What’s the difference between Retainers & Recurring Templates?

      • Recurring Templates are used to bill for products or services on a recurring basis for repeat clients
      • Retainers are used for reserving blocks of time or a specific budget for service-based work on a recurring basis. Excess time, if tracked, can be billed at a separate rate at the end of the Retainer period

      Retainers behave exactly like Recurring Templates, including sharing the same statuses.

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